“It’s just an absolute joy and a privilege to be able to share books with children, to transport them to new places and experience a new book together for the first time…”
Name: Rose Edmondson
Twitter handle: @snotlady5
What is your current position?
Year 1 teacher and Science Lead.
When, how and why do you get into education? What did/do you want to achieve?
I completed a degree in Biology at Lancaster University and knew I didn’t want to work in a lab- I wanted to work with people. So, I decided to look into completing a PGCE at the University of York- I volunteered at some local primary schools first and really enjoyed applying my subject and loved how no 2 days were the same. I decided to apply and for the first 7/8 years I absolutely loved teaching in Secondary Schools. Things started to change for me about 9 years ago and I felt differently about education: it was the beginning of me wanting to move to Primary.
I still want to achieve what I went in to education for. I want children to fall in love with learning like I did. I want to play a part in that.
How do you feel the education landscape has changed since you started in your role?
I think since I first came in to teaching 16 years ago education has changed massively. When I first came into my role I had no performance management as such, lesson observations were very infrequent; I felt trusted as a teacher. Unfortunately, in some of the secondary schools I’ve spent time in I’ve experienced a massive shift as schools try to save money. The accountability has shifted away from the students to being solely on the teachers and there are too many schools that don’t look after their experienced staff – it’s such a shame. Since trying to make the move to Primary and getting so much support from so many people I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes, something as many schools as possible need to embrace from the top down.
What are your earliest memories of reading and writing?
My absolute earliest memory of writing and story telling has to be the Wicks catalogue delivery to my Grandmas house! I can remember being so excited when it got delivered! I must have been about 5 years old but I loved turning the pages in the Wicks catalogue- of course I couldn’t read any of the words so I had to make up my own! I’d pretend the pages were full of different characters and I’d insist on reading about them to my Grandma! I’m not sure whether she was impressed or not, but I loved it!
I can remember being taken to Bury library from a really early age with my Dad. I absolutely loved picking up the Ramona books and would devour them. I also loved to pick up non-fiction books based around crafts which is probably why I love to craft so much now!
How do you try and foster a love of reading in children?
I read to my class every single day and we absolutely love it. If they want to talk about books, I let them. I let them draw pictures based around the books we have in the classroom, or at home and they absolutely LOVE to share this pictures with each other. This year I gave every child in my class a book in December. Most of them wanted me to read that book to them before they took it home and so many of them still talk about the books they received with others in the class. It’s just an absolute joy and a privilege to be able to share books with children- to transport them to new places and experience a new book together for the first time- to experience the emotions- just wow!
What has been your most successful reading or writing lesson or activity with children?
I think sharing my love of words and vocabulary every week with my Year 8 form group last year was really special. Every week we would discuss a new word (we only had 20 mins to do this) really explore the word, synonyms, antonyms and then use it in context (thanks to vocabulary ninja and Jack Philips is needed here I think!). All of my class really enthused and were involved- it was pretty special at the end of the year when I left to move to Primary and some of the words that we had discussed even made it into the leaving cards they wrote for me!
What advice would you give to parents whose children say they don’t like reading?
I would say that they make not realise they like reading but they will certainly do it every day whether they like it or not! It doesn’t really matter what they read so long as they’re reading something. I gained a child in my Year 8 form last year who really didn’t like to read and would much prefer to sit and look out of the window or just talk to others in the room. But we had 20 mins of DEAR time every day and over the year I added more than 70 books to our class library that the children could just borrow or take home and keep if they would prefer. I decided to add some nonfiction books quite early on and my new student took such an interest in one book about Norse myths that he would sit and read it to one of the other students in class- it was so heartwarming to see. I think sometimes it’s just giving reading a chance because there will be something out there for everyone- it might not happen straight away, but it will happen at some point- they will start to get lost in what they’re reading.
What books do you remember from your childhood? Do you have a favourite?
I can remember visiting a beautiful bookshop and my Dad telling me I could choose whatever book I wanted- I must have been about 6. I was in heaven! I walked away with a joke book and I don’t know that I partially regretted not buying a Roald Dahl book! I did receive Matilda quite soon after which I still love reading today and I used to enjoy sitting and reading James and the Giant Peach too. I always find it hard to choose a favourite because it’s always dependent on my mood at the time but I can usually pick up The Twits and be transported back to my Year 4 classroom – I loved it.
What was the first book that made you cry?
I have absolutely no idea! I do remember the first film I cried at which was “Lassie”! I definitely remember crying when I read Little Women and Beth died, but I don’t remember if that was the first time I’d ever cried whilst reading a book – it might well have been!
What authors did you dislike at first but then grew into?
This is a very interesting question- I fell in to reading a lot of the classics when I was 12 so quite quickly discovered the Brontes and Thomas Hardy and absolutely loved George Elliot, but I could never really get in to Jane Austen- and I can’t really today either! I’m not really sure why but I might try to pick Emma up again and see if I don’t love it a bit more than I did when I was 13!
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
I took a break from reading when I was at University but when I wanted to get back into reading again I stumbled across an amazing novel called This Thing Called Darkness by Harry Thompson and it made me fall in love with reading again. It tells the story of Darwin through the voyage he took with Captain Fitzroy and is just fantastic. It’s such a shame Harry died at just 45 years of age as I’d love to tell him just how much his book meant to me.
Have you ever experienced readers block?
Yes- definitely when I went to University, though I never stopped writing (I kept a diary from the age of 9 right through until I was 25!). I just didn’t feel the need to want to read anymore. But then I realised that I wanted to read again once I became settled in my first teaching post and I haven’t really stopped reading since.
Are you drawn to a particular genre?
I would say that I probably am. I love to read historical fiction as well as factual science books. There’s certainly genres I keep revisiting but I just don’t enjoy as much. I’m desperately trying to enjoy sci-fi more, especially because my eldest loves it so much, but I really, really struggle!
What book are you currently reading?
I have a number of books on the go at the minute! I’m reading The World of Moomin Valley every evening. I absolutely adore all things Moomin! I am also trying to read Storm Witch but my eldest one keeps on stealing it as well as Time Travelling with a Hamster.
Where’s your favourite place to read?
Definitely snuggled up on a warm sofa with a hot drink and preferably a roaring fire in the background! This rarely happens as I’m usually too busy and just have to fit in reading where and when I can!
Which three books would you recommend to primary school children and why?
This is a really tough question so I will try to pick books which I have read which have moved me in different ways.
So, a favourite with my Year 1 and with me is Bear and Wolf by Daniel Salmieri- the illustrations are just phenomenal and the book is just so heartwarming! I was practically in tears when I read it for the first time to my class- just beautiful!
I absolutely loved Gaslight by Eloise Williams- my favourite book of the year last year. I think it’s just how her description transports you- the way she writes is the way I’d love to write- just stunning and my 9 year old daughter really enjoyed it too.
The last book recommendation probably isn’t best suited for all primary aged children- you’d have to know your children really well as it’s quite creepy- even for me as an adult! But it has to be Thornhill by Pam Smy. I’ve never read anything like it- exceptionally clever and definitely by far the most popular book borrowed from Y7-Y11 when I was in Secondary. So popular in our house that we have two copies as my husband fell in love with it too!
Finally, in one sentence, can you describe what reading for pleasure means to you?
In one sentence reading for pleasure to me means: being transported and being so captured by a book that you don’t want to return to reality but you want to stay where imagination has taken you- it’s a very special experience and one that’s even better when shared.